If you didn’t know anything about these guys, you’d probably pick Roman “Made in Hell” Karmazin to do the Russian stomp on Cory “The Next Generation” Spinks in their IBF junior-middleweight title fight July 8 at the Savvis Center in St. Louis (SHOWTIME).
Start with Karmazin’s catchy moniker, “Made in Hell.” That’s not a nickname, it’s a declaration, a dark warning, a threat of evil.
You can’t have a nickname like that unless you can back it up. It’s like being called “Bruiser.” You’d better be able to walk the streets alone after dark and crack a few heads if you have to.
“Made in Hell?” That conjures up visions of the horned devil – sweat rolling off his heavy brow, roaring cigarette dangling from his lip and red tail twitching in a heavy cloud of rising smoke – hammering out a fighter who is going to come up from the depths of hell and slam dunk the junior-middleweight division.
“Made in Hell?” I wouldn’t want to fight that guy. Give me someone with a nickname like “The Fighting Florist,” or “The Polite Postman,” someone with a day job and a Milquetoast right hand.
Or give me someone with a nickname like “The Next Generation.”
Not quite the same reaction as “Made in Hell.” Makes you think of family reunions, growing old and heirlooms.
With the Spinks family, it’s easy to understand where “The Next Generation” came from and what it signifies. But it doesn’t really stand up and holler, “I’m gonna kick your butt from here to Bakersfield.”
So, do you put your money on the “Next Generation,” or bet it all on “Made in Hell”?
Too bad picking winners isn’t as easy as picking nicknames.
Karmazin (34-1-1, 21 KOs), who holds the IBF title, comes into this fight following a big win over Kassim Ouma, a promising fighter some of us thought was going to take over the division.
It opened some eyes.
“I have always been confident and beating Ouma did not necessarily change my confidence,” Karmazin said on a recent conference call when asked if his win over Ouma bolstered his self-esteem. “I am out to prove things to the so-called experts and once I beat Spinks, hopefully, any doubters who still exist will no longer exist.
“That is part of the motivation. I know it is tougher to defend the title than to win it. That has motivated me to work harder and prepare even stronger for this fight than I did the Ouma fight.”
Fighting Spinks (34-3, 11 KOs) in his hometown doesn’t seem to worry Karmazin. He said he’s been fighting in someone else’s backyard in front of someone else’s judges and fans for most of his career.
“I don’t have any particular feelings about going into St. Louis,” he said. “It motivates me to train harder and show everybody, including fans who might not be rooting for me, that I am the best in the world.”
Yeah, the self-confidence has always been there.
While Karmazin is coming off his big win over Ouma last July, Spinks hasn’t fought since his heartbreaking TKO loss to Zab Judah in front of his hometown fans more than 16 months ago at the Savvis Center.
Got to hand it to Spinks. Takes chutzpah to return to the scene of the crime.
Asked if he thought Spinks had something to prove in this fight, Karmazin said any good fighter would feel that way.
“That last performance, that last knockout, that is something that does not go away,” he said. “That is something that, as humiliating as it was, is something you cannot erase a year and a half later, or for the rest of your life. That is something that is going to be in the back of his head, and that is why I think he made a mistake by taking this fight with me, because he is not going to be able to erase that memory.”
A deal with the devil.